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:: Thursday, September 30 2004 ::

James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, wrote in the IHT today:

Over the next three decades, more than two billion people will be added to the planet's population, 97 percent of them in the poorer nations, and all too many will be born with the prospect of growing up into poverty and disillusioned with a world that they will view as inequitable and unjust.
He couches his arguments in terms of security - poor people are the ones who become terrorists, etc. But for all that, it's hard to argue with poverty relief.
:: David (07:47 in Michigan, 13:47 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 29 2004 ::

From the Times today, a commentary on why exactly Turkey would want to be in the EU:

Is [EU membership] worth it? The answer: depends on where you come from. For sophisticated europhiles in Istanbul, the EU is not a dry economic union but a statement about who they thii they are. For them the EU is a cultural and political union, the second act of the play written by Kemal Ataturk, who first pointed Turks westwards at the start of the last century. The EU enthusiasts in Istanbul have no more in common with Turkey’s rural and religious poor than do the lounge lizards in Paris who would defend Christian civilisation from the scourge of biblical morality.
The author notes that most of the players for and against Turkey's accession are actually playing a complex game involving power in the EU, agricultural subsidies, and local politics. Turkey itself is fast becoming a red herring. But the question remains in the author's mind - what does Turkey really stand to gain?
:: David (07:54 in Michigan, 13:54 in Paris) - Comment

If you have the time, you should really read Tony Blair's speech from yesterday. Is there any question in anyone's mind why he is Prime Minister? His speeches are simply works of art. And his comments on Britain's take on the Iraq war are quite revealing. Definitely worth taking a look at.
:: David (04:12 in Michigan, 10:12 in Paris) - Comment

Who knew? Apparently, the 50 and 20 dollar bill have a new design, and will be released just before I get home, which probably means I'll get some from an ATM. The funny thing is, they're still boring. When are we going to get some nice looking money, like the rest of the world has?
:: David (03:53 in Michigan, 09:53 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, September 28 2004 ::

The BBC today ran one of those 'today in history' stories, about the sinking of a ferry near Estonia in 1994 which killed nearly 300 people. At the time, I remember reading about it, and Estonia was one of those places where people simply didn't go. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion I have been on the route that Ferry was following, and I suspect I have been to the city it departed from. Weird.
:: David (03:47 in Michigan, 09:47 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, September 27 2004 ::

From the Financial Times today:

There is this very widespread sense that anything that will punish Bush is good for humanity
And there you have it! Seriously, though, the results of polls taken in Europe are really startling - Bush is unpopular in a way that is almost awe-inspiring. I don't know if he's going to win or lose, but I definitely know where Europe stands....
:: David (11:04 in Michigan, 17:04 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, September 26 2004 ::

A lovely Sunday, spent at an internet café. We've been doing some serious furniture shopping in anticipation of next weekend, when we hope to have a place to put said furniture. So far, all we have to show for our efforts is a kick-arse bar, but in the not so distant future we thought we might buy a bed as well. Someplace to sleep in our new apartment would be very good.
:: David (10:14 in Michigan, 16:14 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, September 24 2004 ::

I don't know if all of you have tried Firefox yet, but if you haven't, now is the time. They've rolled out a 1.0 version, which includes one of the coolest features I've seen for some time. They're calling them 'live bookmarks', but what they really are is an integrated RSS reader which makes each of your RSS feeds a drop down menu of recent posts to your favorite sites (by default Firefox comes with the BBC feed, which instantly made me a fan!) You really ought to give the product a try if you haven't - and not just because IE is terrible.
:: David (06:20 in Michigan, 12:20 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Thursday, September 23 2004 ::

Oh, my goodness! It looks as though I may not be able to bring back Twinkies for everyone at the office when I return home in October - the Twinkie makers have filed for bankruptcy!
:: David (09:59 in Michigan, 15:59 in Paris) - Comment

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! I hate making phone calls in French. On the other hand, I survived this one (concerning the fact that the agency had not yet faxed some necessary documents to my bank) without having a nervous breakdown. I think I may have been rude to the secretary (jumping straight in without a preliminary 'Bonjour') but it was all taken care of. Now I can give in to the shakes.
:: David (08:40 in Michigan, 14:40 in Paris) - Comment

Hmm. Well, my friend Trine sent me an invite to set up a gmail account, which I did. So now the address odoketa is taken. But I can't seem to access it from work (and I of course don't have home access yet, being homeless). So don't send me anything on it, because I won't see it!
:: David (04:08 in Michigan, 10:08 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 22 2004 ::

Some random information about Mount Sinai:
It is also known as Jebel Katherina or Jebel Musa. It is 8,651 feet or 2,640 meters tall. It is located on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, Latitude 28 degrees 31' North, Longitude 33 degrees 57' East. You will probably not be surprised to learn that there is some question as to exactly where it was that Moses received the 10 commandments, but there seems to be general agreement (well, among those that think there was a Moses)that it was in the general vicinity.
:: David (10:10 in Michigan, 16:10 in Paris) - Comment

Good lord! The US denied entry to Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Cat Stevens after diverting a plane 600 miles off course. It would be funny, if it weren't so pathetic.
:: David (03:26 in Michigan, 09:26 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, September 21 2004 ::

From the New York Observer (via Arts and Letters Daily):

It’s difficult to imagine a writer who could have appreciated the adaptation of his works into a series of increasingly bad movies more than Philip K. Dick. The progression from Blade Runner through Total Recall to Paycheck has all the hallmarks of one of his stories—black irony, psychological degradation and the implication of a vast conspiracy organized to deceive and persecute one man. The young Dick would have written it as a dark comedy, the older as a bizarre Christian fable.
The article is actually a review of a new biography of Philip K. Dick, but with an opening paragraph like that, it had to be shared!
:: David (07:54 in Michigan, 13:54 in Paris) - Comment

From the Guardian today:

The Foreign Office was thrown into turmoil yesterday after the British ambassador to Rome, Sir Ivor Roberts, described President George Bush as "the best recruiting sergeant ever for al-Qaida".
Apparently, the entire conference was supposed to be off the record. But I can understand, after hearing something like that, that someone really felt the need to put it in print.
:: David (06:55 in Michigan, 12:55 in Paris) - Comment

Well, we moved again. We're in a nice little (emphasis on little) room/apartment down in the south of Paris (we've now stayed on all the points of the compass except Montmartre). Hopefully this weekend we can move into our own place, although I am frankly doubtful. Thankfully, the place we are at now is available for the forseeable future, although I don't know what we'll do if we don't get the apartment by the 1st of October. Probably cry.

As some of you noticed, my birthday happened this weekend. We went to the Louvre, to look at expensive art that was for sale. We ever priced a page from an illuminated manuscript, dating to the 16th century. It was €75,000. We didn't buy it. But we did get the catalog of the place that was selling it, on the off chance we one day lose our mind, and decide to spend all our money on art. Overall, a good, relaxing day. Exactly what I wanted, since I was denying the fact that it was my birthday. Once we get our apartment (soon! I hope!) I'll work on a proper birthday party. We'll see.
:: David (06:41 in Michigan, 12:41 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, September 17 2004 ::

Amazon has posted the wrong price on this item, and at least a couple of people seem to have noticed - read the reviews....
:: David (11:09 in Michigan, 17:09 in Paris) - Comment

Today as my office mate was leaving the office she asked me "Any special plans for the weekend?" and without thinking I responded "Nope. Nothing." and then I realized that Sunday is my birthday. What a crap time to be homeless. I had already decided to postpone my birthday until such time as I have an apartment, but it really is depressing to be unable to celebrate, have a party, something. And even worse when you're so resigned to your fate that you forget your birthday altogether. *sigh*
:: David (10:34 in Michigan, 16:34 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]

I forgot to mention the amazing thing we saw on our return from Egypt. Flying into Switzerland, we got off the plane and before we could even get to the walkway to the airport everyone's passport was checked. Note this was well before the second, official passport check. The goal? They wanted to prevent anyone from getting far enough into the airport to declare asylum. If you get them on a plane home before they reach 'the airport' then you can deny them the right to asylum. It was disgusting, and I was somewhat loudly vocal about how disgusting I found it, but it annoyed me to see a country so clearly contravening the spirit of the thing. The idea behind asylum is to allow people to come to your country to escape a terrible situation in their home country. Sticking them on the first plane back in order to avoid even hearing their claim is not part of the concept. Except now, in almost all western countries, that is exactly what happens. If we stick our fingers in our ears and sing really loudly while several armed guards forcibly remove the poor people, we can pretend they don't exist. I was revolted when I saw it, and even now it turns my stomach. I sincerely hope the West one day realizes how amazingly wealthy it is, and that a few, or even many, asylum claimants aren't going to suddenly make us all poor.
:: David (06:34 in Michigan, 12:34 in Paris) - Comment

Good news - the Eiffel Tower strike is over. Those of you en-route to France can relax.
:: David (03:02 in Michigan, 09:02 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 16 2004 ::

Apparently the Starbucks invasion has given French café owners something to think about. Concerns that poor service might be the culprit which drove away all the customers have prompted a cry for better service from the union of French cafés.
:: David (11:50 in Michigan, 17:50 in Paris) - Comment

Hm. How about this: I am currently sitting, at or near, latitude North 48° 51.6', longitude East 2° 16.4'. Now you can find me on a really detailed map, if you happen to know where one lives.
:: David (11:40 in Michigan, 17:40 in Paris) - Comment

I really need to get internet access so I can fix my blog - it now stretches (as some of you may have noticed) to several pages, and covers both August and September. Usually I manually create the backup, but it requires an internet connection for my computer to make it work. Maybe if we get a hotel next week I'll get internet in the room....
:: David (02:51 in Michigan, 08:51 in Paris) - Comment

The BBC explains the strike in more detail.
:: David (02:48 in Michigan, 08:48 in Paris) - Comment

From Metro today (my translation):
"The Metal Lady Paralysed by Strike"
Apparently, since Tuesday afternoon there has been a "fermeture exceptionnelle" (exceptionally closed) sign, with no notice or explanation given to tourists, ostensibly as a precursor to contract negotiations. The tower, which currently receives 15,000 visitors per day, was last closed by strike in 1998, as part of the negotiation for a 35 hour work week.
:: David (02:47 in Michigan, 08:47 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 15 2004 ::

Had another awful day with the apartment, thinking that maybe we weren't going to get it, after the people at the agency refused to do anything until the woman working on our case comes back from holiday. But today things are better, and maybe we'll have a place to live this month! It is impossible to describe how angry I am that my birthday is going to fall on a day when I am homeless, and getting ready to move into a hotel. But I'll survive, and make a point of doing something fun as soon as we have a house. I think I may make a point of throwing money at the issue, and going somewhere fun. Maybe a night train to Florence...?
:: David (11:50 in Michigan, 17:50 in Paris) - Comment

If you need to get your fill of German radio's website, why not try the Klingon version?
:: David (11:14 in Michigan, 17:14 in Paris) - Comment

Yesterday on France 2 they closed the news program with a report on the tours being given of the parts of Paris mentioned in The Da Vinci Code. There was a wonderful interview with the curate of St. Sulpice, a rotund man with a beard and a smiling face who looked exactly like you think a monk, or perhaps Santa Claus, ought to look, and he said 'and all these people think I'm the head of some secret sect', and then he laughed and said 'I'm not!'. It was absolutely hilarious. So now we want to find some of the companies that give these tours, partially for amusement, and partially because we might use them... one never knows what people might want to do while in Paris....
:: David (09:11 in Michigan, 15:11 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, September 13 2004 ::

Well, we made it back. Lots of delays, but nothing serious, and now I am safely at work, and Sasha is safely at the apartment we are staying in this week, probably sleeping. At some point, I'm going to write up the whole Egypt experience - I've been spewing details left right and centre to people here, but in little bursts so as not to knock them unconscious. I was noticing that I feel like I've been gone a lot longer than a week - I think a real holiday requires dramatic changes, as compared to your day-to-day life, to draw you away and make your brain clear so you can go back to what you usually do with new eyes. I definitely think this holiday fit the bill.

I've also been catching up on what's been happening outside of Egypt, something I didn't do while I was on holiday - taking a break from the news was weird, but good. I felt odd not knowing what had happened in the world for a week, but at the same time it gave me distance, and allowed me to recharge my interest in current events, and also to reflect on why I read the news.
:: David (07:33 in Michigan, 13:33 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

:: Saturday, September 11 2004 ::

Well, we have passed a few days and a few cities, had an amazing day out with some Egyptian friends of Jason's, and in general have been having a great time here. I have managed to contract the Egyptian Death Flu (similar to the Scottish Death Flu, but in a different location), most likely due to the fact that I have been running myself a bit too much preparing for the move and the trip, but although we have slowed down we haven't stopped. Tomorrow we're planning on heading back to Cairo, seeing some pyramids (more pyramids, as we have already been to Giza) and hopping a plane for Zurich, where we will see Sasha's brother's family before catching a red-eye flight to Paris.
:: David (09:23 in Michigan, 15:23 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 8 2004 ::

Well, it's been two full days and we're starting the third, and we still haven't spent a single night in a bed. An overnight bus trip down to Dahab, then the second night we climbed Mount Sinai (I'm still finding it hard to believe we climbed Mount Sinai), and the third night we took an overnight bus back to Cairo. It's now just before 8AM, and apparently we're going to start sightseeing in about an hour. But we had tasty food, and we have had naps, and slept on various buses, so I am not at this moment on my way to a nervous breakdown. But I am looking forward to a full night's sleep this evening!
:: David (00:37 in Michigan, 06:37 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, September 5 2004 ::

Made it safely to Cairo - lots of packing and moving yesterday, lots of getting up early and delayed travel plans and stuff today. But now we are safely in Jason's capable hands, and are at this moment counting out a huge pile of money in exchange for our tiny pile of Euros. Lots of travel and somesuch in our immediate future. More as I get the chance.
:: David (10:42 in Michigan, 16:42 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, September 3 2004 ::

Does anybody know anything about the Kobe Bryant case? This author suggests the answer is 'yes' - we know that having lots and lots of money makes ugly court cases a whole lot easier to get out of, regardless of guilt or innocence.
:: David (07:47 in Michigan, 13:47 in Paris) - Comment

I can't believe they stormed the school. I can't believe even the crazy people who would storm the Moscow theatre and kill 120 hostages in the process would storm a school filled with children.
:: David (07:24 in Michigan, 13:24 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 2 2004 ::

You may ask yourself - where did David find a BS generator of that caliber? The answer? Fat Squirrel dot org. It has a Middle-manager emulator for the Linux Kernel which "bloats your kernel totally unnecessarily - just like a real middle manager"
:: David (18:01 in Michigan, 00:01 in Paris) - Comment

This thing works a little too well: the web economy BS generator can help you to "expedite clicks-and-mortar markets" and "grow seamless e-services", all with the click of a button.
:: David (17:58 in Michigan, 23:58 in Paris) - Comment

Plotting and planning trips instead of packing. Considering we move out Saturday morning, I should really get my act together....
:: David (17:20 in Michigan, 23:20 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

Bummer - the computer goes into storage tomorrow, and there it will remain for at least a week. So the weekend will be bereft of posts, or anything else - we'll move, well wake up early, we'll leave the apartment. Weird. And once in Egypt, perhaps I'll post some notes on the trip....
:: David (15:22 in Michigan, 21:22 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

So a co-worker of mine, who just got back from a consulting gig in DC, lives in London, and works in Paris (now and again) told me this evening after I asked him about the election hype in the US that he needs a t-shirt that reads "Economic Girlie Man". Thank you, Arnold!
:: David (13:32 in Michigan, 19:32 in Paris) - Comment

Apparently SETI@Home has detected an alien. Well, OK, it's detected some sort of signal, which isn't exactly an alien, but if you squint your eyes real hard and lean your head to the left....

Update: apparently even that won't be enough, as the BBC reports that SETI at home is denying everything.
:: David (13:27 in Michigan, 19:27 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, September 1 2004 ::

September! I can't believe it's September!

We rented a space to store our stuff - it was way too expensive, but we were something of a captive audience, and as I told Sasha yesterday, I have reached the point where I am willing to throw money at this problem until it goes away. So now we have a moving guy and a place to store everything, and we'll head out for Egypt on Sunday. Once back we have a place to stay until late September, and the storage place is rented through the beginning of October, at which point if we don't have a place I will begin executing people.
:: David (14:40 in Michigan, 20:40 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

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